Sunday, 14 February 2016

Mediterranean Cruise

We decided this year to cross an item off our bucket list while we were still able to do it. (I'm not 100% health-wise.) With the blessings of my Doctors and a small (ish) bag of medications and a crapload of avion points and airmiles we were off!

Did it start easy - no, that's not our style. Multiple flight changes and one cancellation ensued in the weeks leading up to the trip. One great thing is one of the changes the airline made facilitated us meeting the other couple that we were traveling with here in Canada. Something that the airline previously stated was impossible.

My biggest problem was what to take for a camera. Do I take a good DSLR camera and an all around lens like and 18-105 or go with a 24-75 f2.8 or take a Nikon Coolpix with a 42x opital zoom. The weight won and I took the coolpix. In hindsite, I believe I made the right choice.

We met in Toronto and enjoyed some of the priciest food this side of a Michelin 4 diamond restaurant. $12.99 for a premade wrapped cold soggy sandwich.

The flight to Barcelona had all the comfort of a 5 man cross country road trip in a VW bug. The airline executive should all be forced by contract to only fly economy like the regular folk.

BUT we arrived safe and sound only around 8 hours later.  Barcelona, Spain is a wonderful city and very forward thinking. Their main avenue the Rambula is maybe 8 lanes wide with a 20 foot wide sidewalk on both sides. The city has closed this thoroughfare to all except bicycles and pedestrian traffic. Lots of people there shopping and enjoying the many cafes that have set up patios in the center of the road. They also have a system where you can pay a set fee at the beginning of the year and then you have the use of may thousands of bicycles that are everywhere. Borrow one here and leave it where ever you end up. They also have a "hop on hop off" bus. It is a double-decker bus that travels in a loop that includes all the sights. The price of the ticket includes unlimited trips and earphone so that you can listen to the one of 8 language running commentaries of what you are seeing.

This city has everything a person could hope for in a travel destination. Good food? got it, beaches? got it, lots of old fantastic looking churches? all over the place, museums? lots and lots, sports? mostly soccer but oh, what a team, great architecture? well Goudie was from here so yes to that as well. Cheap alcohol? A bottle of Dewars scotch was 14.99 Euro. Warm weather? high seventies every day while we were there. Would I go back? in a heartbeat.

We just arrived home from a vacation on the Myan Riveria, Mexico. We were at the Gran Sunset Princess All Suites resort. After booking and looking at the tripadvisor reviews I was concerned. A large number of reviews were negative. They complained about the beds (I agree they were a bit overly firm.) the staff being surly, lazy and every other negative adjective; Never saw any evidence of that but did see lots of evidence of the polar opposite. The reviewers complained about many, many people slipping and falling. We saw one 8 year old girl running and slipping but that would happen anywhere. The complaints about the food also unfounded.  Food was top notch. So this leads me to wonder why people write negative reviews when there are no negatives??. Loved the place and I hardily endorse it. (It is a huge resort so if you have mobility issues be forewarned.)

Photos can be found at :

The moral of the story is that you have to take everything you read with a grain of salt. Even this post. I loved it you may go down and be unhappy there. (Grumpy Cat probably would hate it.)


Saturday, 20 September 2014

Fall Colors

The splendor of fall, right at your doorstep. Here in Nova Scotia you need not dust off the credit card to afford a trip through the blaze of fall. If you live in Halifax most trips can be can be done as a one-tank trip. Some of us drive by scenes that we really should be stopping to capture. As an example how many people here in HRM drive by Shubi Park, Hemlock Ravine, Point Pleasant Park, Miller Lake, or Mt Uniack House?

Cape Breton has the Festival Of Colors during the first part of October where you can spend your days looking at or photographing the colors, participating in workshops and in the evening putting ‘er up at several Celidhs – The Cape Breton version of a huge kitchen party.

The reason we get the spectacular color show is because we get warm days and crisp nights as the summer turns to fall. The leaves that have been shading us all summer have the colors in them the whole time; the colors were just hidden by the green chlorophyll in the leaf. As the chlorophyll dies off due to the lack of light and the cooler temperatures we get to see the anthocyanin pigments that were always in the leaf. The bright reds, yellows, and crimsons now pop and astound us with their beauty. These colors are at their best when there is a lot of light and a lot of sugar trapped in the leaf. If the days are warm and sunny, sugar production is high and runs to the leaf. Then the nights must be crisp, this   prevents the movement of sugar-rich fluid back into the trunk, trapping it in the leaves. When these conditions are met the result is the display of earthbound fireworks. Dry weather intensifies the color because the sugar in the leaves is not diluted by a lot of water in the sap.

These conditions also make for the best leaf watching weather. The days are great for hiking and the evenings are perfect for snuggling or romantic walks in the crunchy leaves under foot.
You will get the best photos on your digital camera if you set the ISO to its lowest setting, your shutter speed high and your camera on a tripod. If your digital camera does not permit the use of a cable release, use the camera's self-timer to make "hands-off" exposures.  Then you need to take the best possible artistic exposure of the scene. If there is water flowing in the scene slow down the shutter speed to show movement in the water. With these things in place you will have a perfectly acceptable photo to display to friends. But if you wish to manipulate your photo like pros used to do in their darkroom you must now turn to your computer and special software. Remember it is easy to remove items, very difficult to add items. Hence the reason for striving for the best photo possible to start out with.

Wine Tasting at White Point Beach Resort

Donna Hatt Convention Manager
Several times a year White Point Beach Resort in Nova Scotia, Canada has a "Wine Tasting" Event. The quotes are because it is not just about the wine. The most important thing is that each tasting raises funds for a worthwhile charity. The "Wine Tasting" is a bit of a misnomer. I was there in Feburary 2011 and there was also; sushi, ribs, chicken, crab, lobster, scotch, rum, beer, vodka, wiskey, coolers. You get the idea. 

 Chef Allen Crosby ensures that there is a favorite food for everyone and more than enough food to go around. (The last two years I had to forego supper as I didn't want to be too full to enjoy all the finger food.

 The food was so good that I overheard two gentlemen discussing the merits of wearing maternity pants (the ones with the stretch panel in the front) to this event. 
Chef Crosby regularly provides classes on cooking. I was able to sit in on a BBQ course where he demonstrated cooking a pizza on the BBQ as well as shrimp, vegetables, ribs (of course) and planked salmon. Once the food is cooked, you get to sample it. This weekend can foster up some of the seven deadly sins. (Gluttony leaps to mind.) The Chef keeps the food coming all night and each serving is as good or better than the last. You know that you're full but you just have to try this next thing, oh, and that thing, and, and, and..........
There are many wine represenatives at this event and it is not just Nova Scotia wines. There are Argentinian, South African, Spanish, Canadian wines from the Niagara region, California wines. There is a wine for every palete from the very sweet ice wines and late harvests to the very dry Valpolicella and Riselings. You don't like a wine you toss it and look elsewhere. You love it; then you have a second glass.

If wine is not your cup of tea then there is beer aplenty and several microbreweries are here showing their wares.

If your tastes run toward the breath of life otherwise known as single malts wiskey. They too, are here! But here they serve it up with style.

The dress is what you feel comfortable in. That may be jeans or a gown.

After the evening is done, the results tallied, there is a charity who benefits. This years charity was the Astor Theater of Liverpool. They received a cheque inthe amount of $3,100. In a small town that is a huge windfall.

The next Wine Tasting event is this May 7, 2011 raising monies for the Make a Wish Foundation (c). So check it out, enjoy a weekend away, destress, and support a wonderful charity.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Travel Safely

We all love to travel, it provides us with new locals to challenge our creativity. But if we travel outside our own state, province, county, or country how do we keep ourselves safe and healthy? One great peril to our safety is our camera gear itself! We all love to tell others how great and latest our gear is. This is what muggers and thieves are hoping for; us to identify the best stuff to steal. Use a camera backpack that does not look like a camera bag to lug your gear around in. I know that it is sacrilege but if you are in a high crime area at least cover your Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Mamiya, etc., logo with a bit of electrical tape to hide it. When you sit down to lunch place the leg of your chair through one of the loops of the bag, this prevents the grab and run. Use the room safe if you have one in your room. Another option is a backpack net that is sold at many backpacker stores it is made of wire and can be locked to stationary objects. Remember anyone can steal anything if they have enough time, you just want to slow them down or inconvenience them enough so they go elsewhere. Large Zip lock bags are great to place your cameras and lens in when traveling. They protect your equipment from rain, sand, waves, all the nasties. When you are in the Caribbean or Central America you will get condensation forming on your cameras and lens when traveling from your air-conditioned room to the humid outdoors. As electronic items they dislike the moisture. It is far better to place the camera in the Zip Lock bag and allow the condensation to build up on the bag not the camera. Works the other way here in Canada in the winter – Bringing your camera indoors will cause the condensation buildup.

Now that you have looked after the camera; how about you? Scan a copy of the first page of everyone’s passport and email it to a Hotmail or Yahoo account as they are easily accessible everywhere. Encrypt it with a password and then if your passport is stolen you can easily provide your embassy with a copy of your passport.

Bring a door-stop – a rubber wedge, not to keep the hotel room door open but to keep it closed. With one of these just behind the door a person will not be easily able to force their way into your room. A small flashlight for the bedside table in case of a power outage and you have made a start.

Bring your own first aid kit as medical facilities may be nonexistent or seriously lacking. It need not be much. The following should make your life easier.
o Immodium (lots), Peptobismol caplets,
o Gravol
o Allergy medcations (benedryl, epi pen, Claritin)
o Tylonol, ASA,
o Ozonol, zilocaine spray
o Tums, x-lax
o Suntan lotion, 45, 30, 15
o prescribed medications such as asthma inhalers, nitro spray.
o Hepatitis A & B innocculation, malaria pills(if required)
o Bandaids, moleskin, elastic bandage, butterfly bandage

Plastic cooler bag for beverages on the beach, ear plugs, flydope, insulated mugs. Small flashlight, knife, lighter, mini screw drivers, pliers, duct tape. Don’t forget the language translation book .